We jumped on a bus to Florianopolis at 11:30pm for the first of what I’m sure will be many uncomfortable nights “sleeping” on a long distance bus during this trip.
Anyway, we got to the Florianopolis bus depot at about 11am the next day, and as no one could be bothered working out the local bus system after a pretty average nights sleep, we jumped in a cab that cost about $35 AUD to our home for the next week - Barra Surf Hostel.
Our stay in Barra da Lagoa was for the week over New Years Eve, one of the busiest times of the year. Naturally this came with the associated crowds and traffic, but more about that later.
We were warmly checked into Barra Surf Hostel by Rodrigo and Mariane, the husband-wife team of owners who wasted no time in recommending an awesome pay for weight lunch place and some nice places to swim after. We had a big feed and went for a shortish walk to explore the neighbourhood, as well as check out some local natural pools around the headland from Barra beach.
The pools were pretty crowded, but we found a nice spot to swim off the rocks in a little cove about 5 minutes walk farther down a trail. Sammy also made friends with a 4 legged local who chased him around in and out of the water for about 10 minutes, and made it exceedingly difficult to scramble back out onto the barnacle covered rocks. He didn’t think it was as funny as I did at the time, but definitely saw the lighter side when the dog repeated the process with a Brazilian guy about 5 minutes later.
The next day we took a bus to Lagoa da Conceicao, and then jumped on a ferry up the lake to Costa da Lagoa in the search of some more little waterfalls as described by our host Rodrigo. We ended up walking the wrong way for about half an hour, but still managed to have some fun in the sun walking around the lake and stumbling across a private little beach for a swim. Some locals pointed us in the right direction eventually through broken portuguese-english and we eventually found the waterfalls. These weren’t as big as the ones we saw in Paraty, but it was still a nice place to have a splash.
The we started the next day by going to the local Tartaruga - or sea turtle sanctuary, which was just around the corner from our hostel. All the guides were in portuguese, but there was plenty of written information everywhere in english so we could get a gist of what the place was about, and also learnt a bit about some other local sea life. We saw some sad, sick old fellas who had been rescued and appeared set to live out their days in the enclosures, but also some cute young ones who looked like they might be fit for release in the hopefully not too distant future. I always have mixed feelings about critters in cages or tanks, but due to the language barrier I can’t really make judgement on this particular spot.
We had fun spending the rest of the day at the beach mucking around on some soft boards that were free to borrow from the hostel, and sampling all of the tasty corn and other treats being sold on the sand. That night we had a few drinks and tried to go out to a “Green-Go” party, where every time a green light behind the bar went on you got 2 for 1 drinks. But, when we got to the club we were met with a line a mile long that wasn’t moving, so we walked around for a bit and then got a bus back home to bed.
Now is probably a good time to mention that Florianopolis as an island is absolutely huge. Although the bus system around the island seemed to be quite thorough, due to the ridiculous traffic from the holiday crowds (turning 10 minute drives into 2+ hour drives), we more or less stayed around the central/east side of the island during our stay, and thus didn’t get to see a huge amount of what the area had to offer.
On new years eve we started the day by hiring some sand boards on some nearby dunes. Sand boarding is so much harder than it sounds, kinda like trying to snowboard on really icy snow, but it was still lots of fun laughing at each other getting axed trying to make it down the hill.
That night we had an absolute feast for dinner put on by the team from Barra Surf Hostel. $R35 (about $17AUD) got us all you could eat Brazilian BBQ meats and salads, cooked on a coal fire in drums on the hostel rooftop. We also got a delicious home made dessert by Mariane and a cheeky glass of bubbles to wash it all down. After the feast we all stumbled down to the beach, which was packed with tourists and locals alike to welcome in 2015. There was plenty of fireworks, cheap capirinhas and people in white clothes (for good luck).
The next day everyone was dead. Not legit dead, but close enough. We slothed around moving only to go to the beach, lay on the sand and lay in the shade at the hostel.
The next day we again lurked at the beach, packed our stuff (we were leaving the next day) and went for a little surf. We booked tickets to see David Guetta that night, which was quite a memorable evening, and not necessarily for all the right reasons. We booked our tickets and transfers and were told to meet the bus down at the beach at 9:30 pm to get a bus to the concert. Now I’m pretty sure we’ve mentioned this before, but people like to do things pretty late in Brazil, and that is especially so with partying. We didn’t know how well this would eventually turn out in our favour.
We met the bus at 9:30 at the beach, and the driver eventually let us on to get out of the rain at about 9:45. The bus didn’t end up leaving until about 10:30, but this was ok because there was a convenience store and some public bathrooms across the road so we could all stock up on beers for the trip into the concert, and then let them out the other end.
About an hour into the trip and 14km or so from the concert, the bus hit a complete standstill in traffic. Naturally by then everyone on board had a few beverages under their belts, and Brazilians and gringos alike were peering out of the rainy bus windows for dark corners we could possibly duck behind to take a leak. However, despite the bus being completely stationary for 5-10 minutes at a time and no end to the traffic in sight, our driver would not open the doors for us to relieve ourselves. Eventually afraid of someone making a mess on board, he relented and pulled over onto the side of the road. Everyone rushed out and found the nearest bush to duck behind and the driver even stepped out of the bus for a durrie.
After answering natures call we went back over to the bus and found the driver still standing out on the street looking pretty wired. We also found a bloke we had met earlier in the night, lets call him “Jim” was still sitting on the bus, shotgun up next to the drivers seat. “Jim” was about 40 from an undisclosed location in Australia, and had bragging about how much coke he was going to ingest tonight. By the looks of it he had shared a fair bit of his stash with our driver. Anyway, whilst everyone was off the bus, driver included, Jim thought it would be funny to hop behind the wheel and drive the bus a little in the traffic. He made it about a metre in total before the coked up driver and his mate rushed on board, dragged Jim out onto the footpath and threatened to belt him over the head with a tyre iron. Shit hit the proverbial fan after this, and combined with the gridlock on the road, we abandoned our transport and started looking at other ways to get to the concert.
We tried to hail down other buses which refused to stop, but basically ended up walking the remaining 12km or so to the concert along the shoulder of the gridlocked highway. Eventually we got there, tired and muddy but safe, and just in time for Guetta’s set at 2am. Thank God for Brazilians and their late starts!
Although Guetta’s music isn’t normally my cup of tea and despite the fact getting there was an absolute debacle, we all still had heaps of fun at the concert and it was definitely worthwhile. The abandoned bus was meant to take us home after too, so we ended up having to get a $40 cab back to the hostel.
We managed about an hour sleep before getting up for breakkie and a local bus to the depot for our 18 hour trip to Iguazu Falls!
Next stop.... Foz do Iguaçu!